Monday, February 9, 2015

2015 GameKeepers / Winter - Planting Future Fodder

Tree Spade at work transplanting a live oak
Planting trees for an annual mast crop requires open space and a long term management plan, and these efforts can turn into what feels like a free food plot in successive years. Property owners who manage for game can tell you that everything costs more these days when it comes to planting. All these factors might cause managers to look at an acorn a little differently as it rests in the palm of their hand. 

A property manager in Orangeburg County, South Carolina shared how making changes to the long term management plan of a property led to a large tree plot planting. With an increased timber harvest, in order to create more open space for wildlife habitat, the property stepped away from timber management as the priority and stepped up efforts to provide better hunting in the future. 

Winter cover of GameKeepers Magazine
Manager Gary Davidson knew he needed to plant some sawtooth oaks and live oaks to enhance the property back in 1994. “By chance I came across a nursery in Georgia that had a surplus of sawtooth oaks, and they were willing to make us a deal,” said Davidson. "We came away with 1200 sawtooth oak saplings, which are in the white oak family and they yield a large nut in the early part of fall. These sawtooth trees began producing mast for us in just five to seven years, and they don’t skip a year of production like a pecan tree does.”
An acorn planted today can pay off
big time for wildlife down the road

“During those formative years I fertilized the sawtooths to sweeten their mast and I pruned them as best I could too,” said Davidson. “But 18 years later these trees are on their own now since the yield is so large that I don’t need to spend money on fertilizer or spend time pruning them for stand improvement. I find that a good wet summer like over the last couple of years can greatly enhance their mast yield too.”

“We have a soft mast crop from native persimmon trees on the property, and they also produce in early fall,” said Davidson. “We rely on native red oaks and water oaks to drop acorns late so that these food sources don’t ever run out.” Getting 1200 seedlings planted is labor intensive, but Davidson’s take away message is they now have a reliable and natural mast crop each year, and that in today’s world of escalating costs the mast comes free of charge.
Planting Guide Graphic

There is no link available to the entire feature article in the Winter 2015 issue. To join the Mossy Oak Gamekeeper club and receive a hat, Biologic seed samples and magazine subscription click here.

To view past blog entries from Gamekeepers magazine click Fall 2014 - Summer 2014 - Spring 2014 - Winter 2013

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